It’s been called the most acclaimed, polarizing movie of 2013. 12 Years A Slave, which hits movie theaters nationwide today, is easily the most detailed, unflinching, and hardboiled portrayal of slavery ever produced by Hollywood. Directed by uncompromising British auteur Steve McQueen, the film tells the true story of Solomon Northup—played by the brilliant Chiwetel Ejiofor—a free African-American man kidnapped in 1841 in Washington, D.C. and sold into the relentless brutality of bondage in New Orleans. There are surreal lynchings, bloody whippings, and the stripped-down historical reality that slavery was indeed business as usual in America.
But while the R-rated 12 Years A Slave is unfiltered in its portrayal of Northup’s struggle for freedom, Ejiofor believes the movie should be on the list for field trips nationwide.
“I absolutely think that kids in school should see this movie,” Ejiofor tells VIBE. “I think it’s never too late and it’s never too early to start learning and talking about human respect. I think that’s the overall message of this film.”
Of course, there is major Oscar buzz surrounding the film. Yet even amid such talk, Ejiofor—who is leading in the early race for Best Actor—says he hasn’t had time to ponder such things.
“It’s all been amazing,” he says of the positive reception to 12 Years A Slave. “It has been great and has been very special. But I’m not really thinking about awards at the moment. I’m just thrilled about this movie.”—Keith Murphy (@murphdogg29)